Covid: Italy worried about variants and weekend crowds

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Concern has gone up a notch this weekend in Italy in the face of the spread of variants of the coronavirus and the crowds in large cities, favored by particularly good weather.

“I’m obviously worried. The resurgence of contagions is largely due to the English variant, ”said Massimo Galli, one of the most eminent Italian virologists, who practices at the Sacco hospital in Milan, in an interview with the Roman daily Il Messaggero.

“To be honest, all the data points in the direction of an increase in new cases,” he added.

Despite the call to “stay at home” launched Friday by the Higher Institute of Health (ISS), the body responsible for advising the government in the fight against Covid, crowds poured into the streets, parks and seafronts of several Italian cities to take advantage of the particularly sunny and mild weather reigning this weekend on the peninsula.

The city of Naples responded by closing part of its seafront, which was stormed by locals, while the beaches and bars of Ostia, the nearest seaside resort to Rome, were also overrun by onlookers. .

In the historic center of the capital, Via del Corso, one of the main shopping streets, has been closed. The same scenes of gatherings along the Navigli, the canals of central Milan.

On Sunday, faced with the progression of variants, three Italian regions classified as “yellow” (moderate risk) officially changed to “orange” (medium risk): Emilia-Romagna (Bologna region, north), Campania (region of Naples, south), and the small region of Molise (center).

A total of nine regions out of twenty are classified as “orange”, all the others being “yellow”. The change to “orange” implies in particular drastic restrictions on travel outside its own municipality and the closure to the public of bars and restaurants, which in the “yellow” regions can accommodate customers until 5:00 p.m. GMT.

In addition, some regions have created “red” zones (high risk) in certain parts of their territory, such as Umbria (center), Alto Adige (north) and Lazio (region of Rome), which has decided to isolate the municipalities of Colleferro and Carpineto Romano, located at the gates of the Italian capital, “because of the high incidence and the presence of the English variant”.

Italy recorded 14,931 new and 251 deaths on Saturday. Since the start of the pandemic, the death toll has been 2.9 million cases and 95,486 deaths.